Melting My Way Through July

Henrietta’s Grave

Afterwards

William Stafford

Mostly you look back and say, “Well, OK.  Things might have

been different, sure, and it’s too bad, but look –

things happen like that, and you did what you could.”

You go back and pick up the pieces.  There’s tomorrow.

There’s that long bend in the river on the way

home.  Fluffy bursts of milkweed are floating

through shafts of sunlight or disappearing where

trees reach out from their deep dark roots.

Maybe people have to go in and out of shadows

till they learn that floating, that immensity

waiting to receive whatever arrives with trust.

Maybe somebody has to explore what happens

when one of us wanders over near the edge

and falls for awhile.  Maybe it was your turn.

This poem, by William Stafford pretty much sums up how I have felt, much of July. Still very much mourning over Henrietta, I am trying to pick up the pieces and go on. I am trying to float, and accept whatever arrives with trust. I am trying to focus on the happy memories. I continue to care for my little flock of older and younger hens, and hope for the best.

The “Littles” are 17 weeks old, and this past week we put them with the older hens. I had planned to wait, but the older girls were grieving for Henrietta and it was so hard to watch. I decided they needed a distraction. So we put them in side by side paddocks for seven days. The older hens spent their days next to the fence dividing the two paddocks, watching the Littles in their own brand of chicken TV. It was cute to watch. After a week we put them together, and they are getting along fairly well. By this I mean no bloodshed! The most they have done is peck one of the littles on the head or foot, to get them to move out of the way. Buttercup is starting to hang out with the Littles more and more, because she can see that they get more treats. Buffy Orpington, after spending a week calling out for her missing friend, has gone back to laying eggs, and is now the leader of the flock. We have had several long talks about leadership, and I hope Henri is by her side in spirit, encouraging her to be patient and kind. Yellow Feet is less pleased with the newcomers, and has resumed her role as chicken herder. She ushers the Littles back and forth insisting that they vacate any part of the coop, run, or paddock that she would like to occupy. I guess Yellow Feet has given up egg laying entirely and has settled into a rather grumpy retirement. The Littles and the Big Girls are acting like two separate flocks mostly. I hope to see them doing things together soon. The Littles still go up to their roosting area to sleep at night. They have gotten as far as the middle of the ramp up to the big girls’ roosting area before freaking out and running back to their more familiar space. Life goes on.

My dear Patrick made me a bench by the woods. I have been going there each morning for my morning meditation/prayer time. It gives me so much peace to be among the trees. I think as Mary Oliver says:

“When I am among trees, especially the willow and the honey locust,

Equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,

they give off such hints of gladness,

I would almost say that they save me, and daily.”

I do think the trees are saving me. Thank you Mary Oliver. And thank you, trees.